January 11, 2017
Proposed New Enforcement Tools Could Include Licence Suspensions, Financial Penalties
Ontario is taking action to ensure that long-term care home operators across the province with recurring care and safety concerns provide quality and safe care for residents and their families.
While the vast majority of long-term care homes are in compliance with provincial rules and regulations, Ontario intends to strengthen its quality and safety inspection program with new enforcement tools — including financial penalties — to ensure that all home operators are addressing concerns promptly. These proposed new tools would include:
- Financial penalties that would be applied to those operators who repeatedly do not comply with the requirements of the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, as recommended by the Auditor General in her 2015 annual report. Any financial penalties would not negatively impact patient care
- Provisions to enable the Minister to provide direction to long-term care homes to support improvements in care, for example directing all long-term care homes to use a new skin and wound care best practice protocol
- Establishing new offences that would provide additional protections for residents, if needed, such as an offence for failing to protect residents
- Minister and Director’s authority to suspend an operator’s licence and order interim management
- Improvements to the transparency of the inspection process, including publicly posting directives to long-term care homes.
The province intends to introduce these proposed changes, which require legislative a nd regulatory amendments, early this year.
These enforcement tools build on the province’s enhanced Resident Quality Inspection strategy and are part of a continuous examination of improvements that can be made to ensure safety and quality care at long-term care homes, so Ontario families can continue to have confidence in the long-term care home system.
Supporting quality care at long-term care homes is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.
- Ontario continues to make investments and improvements to the long-term care sector, including:
- Renovating 30,000 long-term care beds in 300 older long-term care homes by 2025
- Adding 75 nurse practitioners to long-term care home staff
- $10 million in funding to provide behavioural supports for long-term care residents living with dementia and others with cognitive impairments who exhibit challenging behaviour
- An enhanced Long-Term Care Homes Quality Inspection Program, which prioritizes homes based on risk, so that homes with complaints, critical incidents, compliance history and other risk factors are subject to extended inspections
- An upgraded long-term care home locator tool with the ability to compare one home’s compliance results against the provincial average.
“The safety and security of Ontario’s long-term care residents remains our government’s priority. These proposed changes would expand an already robust legislative and regulatory oversight system for Ontario’s long-term care home sector. The safety, quality of care and quality of life for Ontario’s 78,000 long-term care residents are the key priorities of the regulatory and inspection regime.”
— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
“Today’s announcement by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is a positive step forward in ensuring that the safety and well-being of Ontario’s long-term care residents is being protected. The proposed new tools are a welcome addition to those already in place, which will increase the ministry’s ability to enforce the requirements of the Long-Term Care Homes Act and its regulations and ensure that homes comply. We are very pleased that the government has taken action at this time to improve the long-term care home inspection and enforcement process to safeguard those Ontario residents who rely on these homes for their ongoing health and personal care needs.”
— Jane Meadus, Staff Lawyer & Institutional Advocate, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
“Family Councils of Ontario (FCO) supports these new enforcement tools and will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other sector partners towards better care and safety for all residents living in long-term care homes. We applaud the improvements to the transparency of the inspection process that FCO, families and residents have been working towards.”
— Lorraine Purdon, Executive Director, Family Councils of Ontario